Imagine if your local waste-water treatment plant was a power plant too.
Researchers at Penn State have successfully created electricity from wastewater using naturally occurring bacteria. The technology works using microbial fuel cells. While this method of creating electricity is not new, cost has stalled its use for large scale electricity production.
The scientists overcame this problem by using a carbon fiber brush as the surface for the bacteria to colonize instead of carbon fiber paper, which is much more expensive. This switch more than doubled the electricity production. Other cost savings came from using modified versions of membrane tubes that are already used in wastewater treatment, and switching expensive platinum catalysts for cobalt-based catalysts.
These changes bring microbial fuel cells closer to a practical and sustainable energy source. The best test case "produced 18 watts per 260 gallons of water" with greater than 70 percent charge efficiency. Electricity is typically used to clean water, so there is an overall savings from the natural cleaning done by the bacteria, in addition to the electricity it produces.
state that "the design of a wastewater treatment reactor could be as
simple as a large tank with the brushes and [modified membrane tubes] inserted
into the same tank."
Trash has been the hot topic in regards to energy production, so I am glad other resources, like waste water, are not being overlooked. By the look of things, microbial fuel cells are just on the horizon of achieving one of the ultimate eco-goals: turning necessary waste into useful products.
Via: Penn State Live
written by Trent Bigelow, April 06, 2007
written by Austin, April 20, 2007
written by Appliance Parts, November 13, 2007
|< Prev||Next >|